Lookin’ At My Back Door

I’m almost ashamed to admit how long this little project has taken me. In fact, I’m not even going to fully disclose the amount of time, but I will say… it’s been over 2 years 6 days.

Of course, not 6 days of working straight. No, it was more like 30 mins here, an hour there and 15 minute crying sessions every time I thought about how long it was taking to accomplish such a simple thing.

I have finally repainted half of the back door.

Mind you, I can paint a rather large room in just a day; taping, primer and two coats of paint all included. In my mind it was quite absurd that I couldn’t get this done in an hour but I kept telling myself to just take my time and do the best I could and most importantly not to get discouraged.

All of the sanding, reaching and having my kids help me get on to a chair without falling has been more than exhausting and way too time consuming but  I’m glad I didn’t give up because it sure does feel good to get something done.

Let’s take a look at the door at the begining of the year.

If you have not seen this photo yet, brace yourself… It’s ugly.

It’s a blurry photo, taken with my iphone, but the blur makes it look better (take my word for it). Broken window, old dingy paint and a failed attempt at a window covering.

How did it get so bad? Well, if you’re really interested to find out you can read about it here.

That post will also explain to you the below picture, which is better but still a bit of a hot mess.

Once again, it’s another blurry picture that  was taken before I got my fancy camera and knew the rules of  sunlight.

I’ve been wanting for years to give that door a fresh coat of paint and since it was something that could be done over a period of days and occupy my mind for a bit each day, I took on the job.

This morning I even made a new mistreatment from a tarp that I bought a few months ago at the Home Depot for around 8$. It’s large enough that when I’m feeling stable enough to not fall and crack my head open someday I’ll be able stand on the counters again and replace my other windows mistreatments with the same fabric.

3 window and 1 door valances for 8$? Unheard of.

Here is what my door looks like today.

Naturally, I’m not fully finished, but for now, this is good enough in my book to cross the 2 items off of my list.

I’ll still need to paint the frame, paint the hinges and get a new door knob. I’m also thinking that I’d like to add a kick plate at the bottom of the door, but I have no idea how much they cost or how they go on.

And then there is the other side of the door but let’s not go there just yet.

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Who Says Cupcakes Have ALL The Fun?

Betcha' can't eat just one!

I’d like to take a brief moment to talk about cupcakes. Personally, I find it a little odd that the popularity of the cupcake has reached such epic proportions.

  • There are tv shows about cupcakes.
  • There are blogs dedicated solely to cupcakes.
  • There are bakeries that only sell cupcakes.

I suppose I kind of get it. I can’t deny that they are cute, fun and tasty. The good people of the world love their cupcakes. Some people even pay a lot money for these ridiculously overpriced 4 inch sugar injected treats.

Certainly though, cupcakes aren’t the only delicious little baked good that can bring a smile to someones mouth.

In all honesty, I don’t really have anything against cupcakes. I enjoy making them and eating them from time to time, but I am not writing an ode to cupcakes today. Nope, I figure they all ready get way too much attention on their own. Instead, I’ve decided to dedicate this post to another yummy, easy to make, fantastic to eat and totally underrated treat.

Muffins.

Yup. Muffins.

Can anybody explain to me why these cutie pies don’t they get any of the fun-loving attention they deserve?

Some of you might say, “A muffin? Seriously? Is she really sticking up for bland, predictably boring muffins? They are dry, they are plain, they don’t deserve any homage!”

Well, to those who may think that, I have to tell you, I strongly disagree.

Muffins are fantastic!

First of all, they aren’t as delicate as their fancy-shmancy cousins the cupcakes who always get all dressed up with their icings and decorations. And because muffins don’t have that all of that sugary goop on top they are much easier to transport, store and share.

Muffins are like the girl next door in the world of baking; relaxed, down to earth and low maintenance.

Also, muffins aren’t made with as many eggs, butter and sugar as cupcakes, so while they are still a sweet treat, they have far less calories and fat than the snobby little cupcake.

I will even go as far as to say (if made correctly) muffins can be one of the very best bakery items around.

Having said that, I have been on quite a mission over the past 3 years searching for the most perfect chocolate chip muffin recipe in the world.

I would estimate that I have tried at least 15 different recipes; some have been absolute trash worthy, others mediocre and others, while very good, surely not title worthy of “The Best.”

Along the way, I have been very fortunate to find a few fantastic muffin recipes which I hold near and dear to my heart.

I’ve filed away a fresh lemon muffin recipe that is filled with just the right amount of sweetness and tartness. I have also added to my collection a wonderful and moist coffee cake muffin recipe that serves as wonderful comfort food on cold hurried mornings. But my absolute favorite is a larger than life blueberry muffin that is to die for, and has been rightfully named so by its creator, Colleen, at AllRecipes.

Oh, blueberry muffins! How I praise thee!

Blueberry Goodness

From the very beginning of blueberry season right up to the very end these muffins are some-what of a staple in our home. These very muffins have been plentiful in our kitchen for the past two years and will be, I expect, until the end of time.

Now, you may be asking yourself what is it exactly that I consider the qualities of a fabulous muffin.

Well, to start with, I love a harder and somewhat chewy, almost flakey outside that surrounds a dense, moist and pillowy like inside. It’s important to me that the feature ingredients are distributed evenly throughout, not overwhelming the muffin but truly not leaving any bite deprived. I look for a sweet (but not too sweet) batter and I LOVE when all of the flavors in a muffin, from the first bite to the last, marry well but more importantly stand out slightly on their own.

This leads me back to my search of the ultimate chocolate chip muffin. I disappointingly found in nearly all of the recipes I had tried that the muffins were extremely dry and the chocolate chips would be just that, chocolate bits that didn’t blend in with the rest of the muffin. The outsides were too hard and always fairly (if not terribly) bland. Overall, the treats always faired very disappointing and not worth making again.

Yesterday, however, I decided to take my very favorite blueberry muffin recipe and throw caution to wind. I made a few minor, very simple changes and ended up with the most perfect, absolutely delicious and to die for chocolate chip muffin.

Now, it certainly wouldn’t be nice of me to brag and tease you with all of this talk about the two best muffins that I’ve ever made without sharing with you the recipes, would it?

Below you will find the both of the recipes that I’ve adapted from Colleens original recipe, which you can find here. You will see that the batter is exactly the same for both recipes, with the exception of the stars… blueberries or chocolate chips. You will also notice that the topping is almost identical; the only change is the addition of cocoa powder for the chocolate chip muffins.

OR…

METHOD…

I do hope that you will take a few minutes (yes, they are very easy) to create the very best muffins you have ever made and better yet, ever ate.

Your taste buds will thank you, your family will thank you!

And you will be thankful that you can enjoy these spectacular little things just moments after taking them out of the oven. Nope, you won’t have to wait for them to cool off before dressing them up with fancy things before indulging like other certain treats.

Enjoy!

B*tch Slapped by the Universe

It would be much faster to write about the things that are going smoothly in my life right now, but it wouldn’t quite make sense to do such a thing because, well, there just wouldn’t be more than a sentence to write about.

I feel like everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong, until tomorrow, that is, when I find out what other things could go wrong when the do go wrong.

I mean, I haven’t jumped in front of a moving vehicle out of desperation yet, so it’s wise for me to assume there is bound to more trouble to deal with. Please, believe me when I say I don’t want to deal with anymore negative issues, bad news or broken things that I will need to fix, replace and otherwise stress over, but at the rate things have been going I’m expecting that I’ll be served with some more obstacles; regardless as to whether I can handle them or not.

I don’t normally like to bitch and although I do, sometimes, complain, I try not to and think myself as fairly positive person in terms of life and all of the mishaps one finds themselves in. I am certainly not a chronic complainer and (generally speaking) if something is wrong I internalize it until it passes or reaches until I reach the point in which I feel as though I am going to explode, and only then I become verbal.

I am going to explode.

I think if I write all of my gripes down, I will benefit by creating a bigger picture for myself and also may make me feel better and (hopefully) come up with some solutions to fix what I can and face what I can’t.

Before I get to my gripes I want to cross two things off of my list. I packed Huz’s stuff and stole ALL of his drawers. High Mother Effin Five! Of course, it took me four days to get it done because I move like an old lady, but I felt good in spirit to get things moving along. Eventually, I’ll have to move all of the bags out of my hallway, but hey, I’m celebrating baby steps here. The second thing I’m crossing off is cleaning out the fridge. It wasn’t hard, as there was no food in there but it was hard because it hurt like hell and I had to take like 3 breaks during the clean out. It took me over 2 and a half hours (pathetic!) to get it done but it felt great to get something accomplished and now the 26 year old fridge looks rather purdy, if not sparkling clean.

Okay on to what the hell has gone wrong in my life that makes me want to bury my head in the sand…

1. Huz assault – mental and physical coping required

2. Marriage over – mental coping required

3. Court postponed (so far 3 times on 2 separate trials)

4. Vacuum broken

5. Hip displaced

6. Extreme endless pain

7. Being treated for Fibromyalgia

8. Daughter stuck my super expensive memory card in my $1300 computer’s CD rom drive. Now I need to pay to get it removed but can’t carry it into the Apple store

9. Short term disability= lack of 1/3 of my paycheck= NO MONEY. I’m screwed

10. Isaac in more trouble at school

11. Car’s check engine light came on yesterday

12. Health insurance doesn’t cover much of any type of counseling; $40 co-pay per person/per visit in network. Councilors  recommended are out of network and require on-going return visits

13. Facing close to $1000 in co-pays as of now and just waiting for the effing bills to arrive in the mail

Okay, that is the brunt of it. I know there are some other things that I can’t think of right now but I’m too exhausted to press my brain about this any further. All of these things either require a lot of money, that I don’t have or  for me to be in a healthy  mental/physical state, which I am not.

This might be my worst post ever, and I’m sorry that it is, I just needed to vent. Oddly and thankfully, I do feel a bit better just admitting that I’m overwhelmed and panicked. I know I will overcome all of this and I can’t help but think God is laying it on thick just to prove to me how strong I am. He wouldn’t give me what I couldn’t handle, right?

Puttering at a Productive Pace

I just want to share a quick update on a few things that are going on…

First, I want to thank you if you voted in my first ever Poll Daddy poll to figure out what I should replace “Have a Girls Night with the S-i-L’s” from my list of Resolutions!

I had a lot of fun (maybe too much fun) making that little poll. It was really easy and completely customizable. If you ever want to add a little fun to your page I definitely suggest setting up a poll! Also, if you can’t figure out how to set it up leave me a comment and I’ll give you a few tips!

Anyhoo, it was a close call between Happy Hour with the Girls from work and Make Jell-o Shots and fork over the recipe. The general public has decided…

Happy Hour with the Girls From Work! 

I just need to figure out how to tie them all up and drag them to the bar get everyone together. I have faith!

Second, I’m sending out a reminder to sign up for the SocialVibe contest, it is still open! You still have 2 weeks and 2 days to make a HUGE difference in the lives of other people, it is free and easy and it will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside to know that you are doing something selfless and kind! Who wants to pass up warm and fuzzy?!

If you don’t feel like adding the widget to compete for super yummy cookies you can still help by visiting these really awesome blogs and clicking on their widgets! They have been pumping their cause and created wonderful posts explaining why they chose to support the cause that they did. I couldn’t come up with a post asking for support, even as half as wonderful as either of these girls!

Why don’t you check them out for yourselves, click for a cause, and help these girls win some cookies!

Yerrtle’s Blog   

My Life’s List 

When you are done supporting their causes be sure to give my cause a little love! Now I’m just making you work a little too much today, aren’t I?

Okay, now that you’ve done your good deeds to start the week I will leave you alone for a few hours! I am going to finish packing Huz’s clothes and officially take over one of his drawers. I’ll write about that later, along with some life changing challenges I am facing since my doctors visits on Friday.

The Good Ol’ Switcharoo

I’ve gone through my List of Resolutions about 4 times in the past hour, searching for something that I could get done and write about tonight, but nothing really seems to be right.

Everything’s just too risky. 

You know I’m a fail-first succeed-second kinda girl.

  • If I make cupcakes they will burn and catch the house on fire.
  • If I make a pie I will drop it and soil the rarely fresh mopped floor.
  • If I read a book I will (without a doubt) get a paper cut and die of excessive blood loss.

So instead I came up with a brilliant (aka feeble) attempt to entertain you by working on the revision of my list to remove the items that revolved around Huz or his family.

There are quite a few of them and since I don’t have the guts to edit them all right now, I thought it might be fun to do my first ever PollDaddy poll. If it is successful, I will do one a week until every thing has been upgraded.

So, first task…

#1 on the list… Have a girls night with sister-in-laws.

I was really looking forward to this one. Every time us girls would be together  in the kitchen working while the guys sat in the other room watching sports and talking excessively loud at family parties we would say we were going to have a girls night. It was one of those things that was taken for granted. I love my sister-in-laws to pieces and it hurts so much that I won’t be able to, well, I’m not gonna get all sappy.

Anyway here onto the poll!

It will be open for 24 hours and I’ll post the results tomorrow. All you need to do is pick what you think you’d like to read about… I am putty in your hands 😉

If there is a tie I will use the very scientific method of flipping a coin.

ps…

You can vote more than once, so if you want to help a girl feel cool, go on with your bad self.

Cheers!

Ms. Lonely

I suppose I’m a Ms. now. Not that I am not still a Mrs. but I’m not quite yet a Miss, so probably, I’d be concidered a proper Ms.

I’d always hated that term. Ms. It always seemed to me the title of a woman who wasn’t married but didn’t want the world to know.

I don’t feel like doing anything but feeling sorry for myself. I’m depressed as hell and still in tremendous pain.

I though for sure I’d be walking along fine weeks ago but I am far from it. And scared of what is wrong that’s preventing me from doing so.

It makes me angry that I can’t skip.

The weather is so beautiful outside and all I can do is try (unsuccessfully) to find a comfortable way to sit while thinking about all of the things I’d like to be doing.

I’d like to plant my garden.

I’d like to go for a long walk.

I’d like to paint the window frames and the door in the kitchen then hang up their new mistreatments.

I’d like to go shopping for some new clothes.

Or take the kids on a weekend trip.

I can’t do any of it.

I can’t wait until my Orthopedic appointment on Friday, to hopefully find out what is wrong with me.

I want to be happy and laugh and smile.

But in reality, I whimper and I hobble and I cry. A lot.

I feel sorry for myself and wish this wasn’t really my life.

But I wished that before, when he was here.

This IS my new life.

Someday things will feel good and sweet again.

But now as of now, my heart is broken. Torn in shreds.

Why did  it have to be like this?

Why did I wait for him to change for so long?

I saved up over 350$ more than 2 months ago but never crossed it off my list. At least I had a reserve because I’ve done nothing else.

Self-Imposed Chaos for a Cause

Ahh, Mother’s Day…

A day to relax and spend some loving time with your children; Perhaps a day to receive breakfast in bed and maybe even a small token of love and affection wrapped in a bow from the babes.

Or, in my case, a day to be spent arguing with putting the offspring to work in the garden while I slave away in my kitchen to making a delicious meal they will most likely turn their noses up to.

I kid. I kid.

Well, maybe. The day is still young and there are arguments still to be had.

For now though, I’m enjoying a peaceful begining to my holiday. Natalie is still asleep in her bed and Isaac is wreaking havoc at his best buds house.

Oh, quiet morning. It doesn’t get much better than this!

Or does it?

I had mentioned a few posts back that I was really excited about a surprise post I would be adding and I am happy to announce that today is the day!

A short time ago, I ran my very first contest requesting that the lovely residents of blogland submit ideas to me on how to pull a prank on the kids. In exchange for their devilish suggestions I was offering up some super fantastic brownies.

I thought for sure the contest would be of epic proportions and I would be left with an endless list of ways to make the babes squeal.

Yeah. Not so much.

The contest was an epic fail.

I received a whopping total of 2 (yestwo) entries. Of course they were 2 very good entries but I admit my feelings were crushed when the entire world wasn’t pounding down my door with pranks in hand trying to get at my super delish brownies.

Wahh.

Wahh.

Wahh.

(insert tiny violin and a Justin Timberlake song here)

Moving on.

If you haven’t heard me say this before, I’ll say it again and probably 45 more times in the futureI am not a quitter.

Instead of sulking and feeling totally defeated I remained excited and eager to please. It’s not like I didn’t have any contestants for my contest, that would have been embarrassing, and since I was lucky enough to have two entries for the contest I knew that the show must go on!

My sweet-to-the-core blogging friend Dacia, from the super great blog thirtythreeandcounting, was announced as the winner and my little mind got right to work. I couldn’t just send this sweet pea a boring box or paper bag filled with these wonderful fudgey brownies. No way man. I had to express my thanks to Dacia in proper Ginger form and make this a gift she would be sure to remember.

Of course, my life wouldn’t be mine if there weren’t disasters and catastrophes from the time I announced Dacia’s victory to the moment she actually received the prize, but as we all know, I’m a bit of a mess.

Once all of the chaos was sorted out at home, my trusty sidekick and partner in all things beautiful, Natalie and I made it our mission to find the most wonderful and beautiful packaging we could wrap these fantastic brownies in.

Presentation is everything!

Of course, we had no idea what we were doing and it took us quite a while to figure it out as we went from store to store.  After hours of searching and then finally putting the gift together we were rewarded with wonderful time working as a team and impressive results we couldn’t have been more pleased with.

May I present to you some pictures of a gift that was wrapped “really cool”?

The Goods
A gift wrapped really cool

Originally, when I referred to a special surprise, I was just talking about the wrapping of the gift. Wrapping a gift really cool was on my list and it was sure to be a surprise for Dacia who just thought she was getting some really good brownies. I didn’t want to ruin the surprise for her but I couldn’t wait to post the above pictures.

Since quite a few of you expressed excitement to find out what this surprise post was all about (and because Natalie and I had SO MUCH FUN creating this little basket of goodness) I have decided to run another little contest.

This one will require minimal thinking on your part and the gift will certainly be worth a few minutes of your time.

Now, the prize above won’t be the prize that you receive. Oh no. This time the prize will be a wonderful assortment of 3 dozen delectable cookies in some type of really cool different type of wrapping.  The cookie type and packaging will be determined by the creative stylings of Natalie and I, probably the day before it ships.

Yes. I am crazy.

I am also a fantastic baker and Dacia has attested to that in her post here.

Okay, so the way to enter this contest is very simple.  There are only a few things you will need to do:

  • First, go to your Widgets section under your Appearance options on your WordPress Dashboard and add to your page a SocialVibe widget. Yes, folks we are helping other people here! 
  • Pick any cause you would like to support and add it to your page.
  • Leave a comment below indicating you are entering the contest, with a link to your blog and what cause you have chosen to support.
  • Click on my SocialVibe and do an event  (watching a commercial from what I’ve experienced.)
  • Encourage all of your readers to support your cause by clicking on your SocialVibe widget and doing an event. This is free to you and your readers and most importantly provides donations to your cause with every click!

That’s all you need to do! Really, it’s that simple!

Important Details:

This contest will be open from the time this post goes up until 11:59 pm (my time) May 31st. The winner will be the person who has collected on their SocialVibe widget the highest number under the part of the widget that says “My Readers Have Earned.”

This is why it is important to let your viewers know you need their help in supporting your cause!

This contest is open to any WordPress (com or net) user who is located within the continental US or Canada. I really wish that I could open it up to every single one of you but shipping is a small fortune and I have limited funds.

The winner will be announced by 11:59 pm (my time) June 5th and the I will provide my email address for you to send me your shipping address. No PO Boxes can be shipped to unfortunatly, so if you have one of those, please think of another arrangement. On or around June 6th these wonderful treats will be freshly baked, snuggly wrapped and shipped via Fed-Ex to you at your chosen destination. You can have them sent them to your home, office, as a gift. You decide who you want to share (or not share) with.

Additional Information:

If you have any nut allergies please let me know at the time of the shipping email, I will accommodate! Unfortunately, I am not a gluten-free baker and the cookies could be disastrous if I tried, so if you have this restriction in your diet, this contest may not be for you. I have been working in the food industry for almost 15 years and know how to handle food safely and correctly so you need not worry!

I really hope that someone plays!

Pretty Cool Mama

What a better way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo than to beat a pinata? How about beating a pinata and having a really good Mexican meal with the folks?

My son wasn’t able to go on his class trip “without parental supervision” and his teacher had asked us to make arrangements for it months ago. Huz was all signed up and was supposed to go, but he screwed up his life wasn’t able to go and because Huz screwed up our family and made me waste a million vacation days I wasn’t able to take off of work (or walk for that matter) and couldn’t be a chaperone either.

I was hoping (against  all hope) that his teacher would be understanding of our situation and sensitive to Isaac’s feelings, but yeah.

She wasn’t.

She didn’t outright tell me not to send him to school (could she do that without getting fired?) but she heavily hinted the suggestion. I am certainly not blind to the fact that Isaac is a, well, let’s just call him a tough kid to deal with. So, I graciously suggested that I kept him home from the trip. She let out a relieved sigh, and I a saddened one, realizing that he would be upset and that now I was in a bit of a pickle.

Grrr.

Not knowing what else to do I called my Mama to complain.

She immediately offered to come up to help out for the day and I couldn’t have been more grateful. Both of my parents were nice enough to come and spend some quality time with Isaac. They gave him a lot of  tlc, took him to his favorite place in the world (the boy loves the mall) and even bought him some new shoes that I couldn’t afford when he asked me to buy them a few weeks ago.

On top of that, my Mama even brought with her enough food for a fiesta! We had a great time chatting as she cooked (in my kitchen!) a huge Cinco de Mayo dinner after I came home from work. She went all out and made guacamole (my fav), 7 layer dip (also my fav), chicken fajhitas (another fav) and tacos (yup. you guessed it… MY FAVORITE!)

I had such a lovely time visiting with my parents (on a school night) and the very best part of my day was coming home from work and finding Isaac (and my parents) in a delightful mood. He had a much needed great day with my parents and I couldn’t help but feel so happy for him. His smile made my heart melt and I didn’t feel bad that he missed his trip at all.

Of course, after 30 minutes of being an angel he bugged me (and bugged and bugged) for an hour, because he wanted the entire neighborhood kids next door to be a part of the festivities. I wasn’t really feeling up to it; but in the end he won. I’m glad he did win (don’t tell him) because they had a really great time.

Pinata + Candy = Smiling, Laughing, Not Beating Each Other Up or Fighting, Happy Kids

The babes even happily cleaned up the dinner mess because they had so much sugar in them fun playing with the pinata (on a school night!)

One Little Piggy Had None

Miracle diet really works!

This sweet little piggy lost $132.63 today. Cha-ching, badda bing, another number crossed off…

And with that being said, I am so happy to report that I am finally crossing off of the list (upon completion of this silly little sentence) #105: Complete 1/4 of list (91 things)!

Dang, it feels good to get that one off of there. I’m only like 30 days behind, not too shabby! 

I’m also super excited about a post that I will be putting up a few days from now and I’d do it tonight but it is a special surprise 😉

Okay, well, I am off to have a tiny glass of wine and make some super yummy burgers for the babes. We deserve a good meaty meal; we had our first court date today, and it went really well, for everyone.


Berry, Berry So Very, Very Good

I made these for the boy.

It’s amazing how quickly a quart of strawberries can go in this house. I bought one just a couple of days ago, wanting to turn them all into chocolate covered strawberries.

They were on the list and Isaac became insanely jealous when he found out that Natalie and I had a chance to eat some at my cousins baby shower two weekends ago.

No boys allowed.

So, because I love him so very much and knew it would make his day if I made some just for him, I bought the most beautiful strawberries I could find. Obviously I picked the very best ones because there were only seven left today when I decided to make them fancy.

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 oz of chocolate (I prefer dark) chips or chopped
  • 6-8 Strawberries, washed dried and hulls in tact
  • In a large sauce pan bring a few inches of water to a strong simmer. Place a smaller, high sided bowl inside simmering water and stir chocolate and butter every few minutes until it is creamy, shiny and smooth. Alternatively, you can melt in a microwave.

Don’t drink it.

  • Wait for it to cool a little and then dip your beautiful strawberries in. Set on wax paper and refrigerate until set.
  • Share them with the people you love most in the world.

Or eat them all by yourself, I won’t judge.